Carpenter Bee Facts

Michael Bryan

Michael Bryan

Published: 13 Jun 2021

Modified: 08 Nov 2021

carpenter bee facts

Often mistaken as bumblebees, carpenter bees are very unique in their own ways. These bees, which belong to the genus Xylocopa, got their common name from their habit of building their nests by digging into wood surfaces. Using their strong large mandibles, the bees drill and burrow holes 1/2 inch in diameter. They have a lot of unique characteristics, traits, and behaviors. Here are a few carpenter bee facts that may surprise you.

Most bees live together in groups called hives. However, carpenter bees are considered solitary bees because they don’t work or live in colonies like bumblebees. Although the adults usually live alone, the female bees might share a nest. However, both male and female carpenter bees hibernate alone, most often in previously built brood tunnels where they have stored a small amount of pollen to withstand the colder temperatures.

Few insects on the planet can match the honey bee species’ prowess as pollinators when it comes to pollination; however, the carpenter bee also plays an important role in pollination. These bees pollinate flowers, feed birds, and increase the yield of certain plant species.

The harm they do to wooden structures is inconvenient and annoying, but that’s about it. The value of these creatures far outweighs the potential for damage. So, if you see them in your home, or in your garden or backyard, try not to hurt them if as much as possible. They have a place in the world just like the rest of us.

If you want to know more about the different roles and responsibilities of carpenter bees, check out our cool and interesting compilation of carpenter bee facts below.

  1. There are 500 species of carpenter bees.
  2. Carpenter bees measure from 6 to 24 millimeters or 0.4 to 25.4 inches long.
  3. Five species of carpenter bees can be found in the United States.
  4. Carpenter bees drill holes on wood around 1/2 inch in diameter.
  5. Each tunnel, a carpenter bees’ dwelling, has at least 9 chambers.
  1. A carpenter bee is an insect.
  2. Most carpenter bees are black with yellow or white fine pieces of hair on them.
  3. Carpenter bees have shiny abdomens with no hair.
  4. Carpenter bees got their name from their nesting behavior; they burrow into wood or hard plants.
  5. They belong to the sub-family of Xylocopinae, which includes the large and small carpenter bees, allodapine bees, and the relictual genus Manuelia.
  6. The scientific name of the carpenter bee is Xylocopa.
  7. They don’t live in colonies.
  8. Unlike other bees, carpenter bees do not have queens.
  9. Carpenter bees make loud, buzzing sounds.
  10. Carpenter bees hibernate in their nests during winter.
  1. Male carpenter bees die shortly after mating.
  2. Carpenter bees come back to the same location where they were born and reuse the same holes they made for nesting.
  3. Carpenter bees do not have teeth, they use their jaws to dig holes through the woods.
  4. Carpenter bees can’t produce honey.
  5. They have compound eyes; this means, their eyes have many lenses.
Table of Contents

Carpenter bees, unlike bumblebees, do not live in a swarm.

Carpenter bees may resemble bumblebees. However, they do have a lot of differences. Bumblebees live in a hive, and make honey and wax in their hives. On the other hand, carpenter bees do not live in a bee swarm. Female carpenter bees build their own nests.

Only the female carpenter bees sting.

Female carpenter bees are not aggressive. They usually stay close to their nests. However, they sting when threatened or provoked. They have stingers that contain venom, and they can sting more than once. When stung, you may experience a burning sensation on the wounded area of the skin.

carpenter bee
Source: Pixabay

Eastern carpenter bees commonly live in the eastern part of the United States.

Xylocopa virginica or Eastern carpenter bees inhabit the eastern part of the United States and Canada. Eastern carpenter bees have large, black, round bodies with yellow hair. Male carpenter bees have white faces, while the faces of female carpenter bees are all black.

Carpenter bees feed on flowering plants.

Contrary to popular belief, carpenter bees do not eat wood. They mainly feed on nectar and pollen. Female carpenter bees collect pollen for their offspring. They then lay eggs on it, then seal the hole with woodchips or pieces of wood dust.

Male carpenter bees are territorial.

Both male and female carpenter bees perform important jobs. The role of the male carpenter bees is to protect and defend their territory. Male carpenter bees are generally harmless, however, they usually hover near their nest and may “dive bomb” if anyone gets near to it.

Paint or varnish may get rid of carpenter bees.

Painting or varnishing wood in your house may repel carpenter bees. The chemicals used in paints or varnish may dissuade carpenter bees from digging holes into the wood. Spraying the nest of carpenter bees with vinegar and water could be another way to repel them.

You can trap carpenter bees using a 1-liter bottle.

To attract carpenter bees to a trap, get a bottle with holes on its side. Then create a cone-shaped path where carpenter bees can enter, and after that, seal the bottle with a cap. Once you’re done, add in a mixture of sugar, water, and vinegar. The trap will act as a flower, and the sweet smell will lure the carpenter bees.

Citrus oil is a natural repellant for carpenter bees.

Just like other insects, carpenter bees also hate the scent of citrus oil. It can be used to stop carpenter bees from drilling holes in your house. Spraying or applying citrus oil to the holes will help stop the carpenter bees from returning. If you don’t like bees, you better take note of these carpenter bee facts!

Two small species of carpenter bees live in Florida.

Carpenter bees have two classifications: the small and the large carpenter bees. Two species of small carpenter bees live in Florida. Ceratina cockerelli is one of the smallest species in the world, it measures from 3 to 4.5 mm and it’s mostly black, while Ceratina dupla floridanus is a metallic blue carpenter bee that is around 6 to 8 millimeters in size.

carpenter bee
Source: Pixabay

Carpenter bees are good pollinators.

Carpenter bees play an important role in the ecosystem as they are good native pollinators. They are excellent pollinators of tomato, eggplant, and other types of vegetables and flowers. Their silky bodies are perfect for getting pollen from one flower to another as they gather nectar and pollen for their offspring.